Sally Ride, the first US woman to reach space, has lost her battle against pancreatic cancer, aged 61.
Ride was in a thirty-year relationship with her female partner Tam O’Shaughnessy. She had fought cancer for 17 months before sadly passing away yesterday (23 July 2012).
Back in 1983, at the age of 32, Ride held the banner high for women all over the world, when she and four crewmates launched into space on the shuttle Challenger. Later the same year, she returned for a second mission into space.
Growing up in LA, she studied at Stanford University, where she gained degrees in physics as well as English. Later, in 1978, she joined NASA’s astronaut corps, where her training began.
After leaving NASA in 1989, Ride went back to Stanford as a professor. Her deep interest in education lead her to create a science education startup called ‘Sally Ride Science’ in San Diego, which she targeted at younger students, and in particular women.
Former astronaut and NASA administrator Charles Bolden described Sally Ride as breaking barriers with ‘grace and professionalism’ and that she ‘literally changed the face of America’s space programme’.
He added that ‘she will be missed, but her star will always shine brightly.’